20 Things I wish someone had told me when I just arrived in China

1) When someone says “Hmmm…” that means they don’t agree with you but they can’t tell you because they need to avoid conflict at all cost.

2) People will compliment you on weird stuff you didn’t choose, accomplished or had anything to do with, such as your height, eye color, eyelashes length, etc.

3) There is no such a thing as a social smoker, someone who smokes when he’s with friends or at a party just for fun. Here you are either a chain smoker or you don’t smoke at all, there’s no middle point. Same goes for drinking, they won’t allow you to have just a few drinks, you either get wasted or you don’t drink at all. Your choice.

4) People will talk to you a lot, and very loudly, but they are friendly, that’s how they are used to talk.

5) If you cook something for someone and it has no chili they won’t like it and they will say “Hmmm…”

6) There is no such a thing as house parties and is taboo to invite someone to your house. Not because they are afraid of you, but because if they go to your house they won’t be spending money and here spending money or buying many things is not seen as wasteful or arrogant, it’s an attribute everyone considers positive, so if you  meet someone you can’t meet them at a park either, because it’s free, must meet them at a restaurant, cafe, or place where you will be spending money

7) Can’t share cups or bottles with someone.

8) Can’t say anything good or bad about the government or the bad things that happen in China, if you say something bad they will say “Hmmm…”  and if you say something good it will inspire distrust.

9) Can’t give your clothes to others, even if it’s new and very expensive and you just wore it once, it’s taboo.

10) “I will call the police” is not a valid threat because everyone knows police are useless and they won’t help anyone who is in trouble, they can only give you more trouble.

11) Everyone will stare at you, as if they were watching TV.

12) Saying you’re Muslim is always an effective way to explain why you don’t drink/smoke/eat meat.

13) There’s no such a thing as friendship between boys and girls and many people say they want to be your friends but what they mean to say is that they want to practice their English or take you somewhere as the token white guy.

14) The local’s idea of a fun night out can be either: going to a restaurant and to a bar afterward or going to a restaurant and to KTV after it, there’s no third option.

15) You must live outside the big cities, big cities are a mess.

16) Police can stop you on the streets and ask you for your passport, and they can shout at you and push you if you can’t speak Chinese.

17) Money and paying the bill is a very big deal, even if it’s just 20 cents people must fight for it, and the winner gets to pay, throwing money at the waitress or cashier is an acceptable way to pay first.

18) The military can pull you over if you in a bus, a car or a train, they can question you, ask for papers and they all have shotguns and assault rifles.

19) Only requirements for working in a hotel in China: Not speaking any English.
Only requirements for working as an English teacher in China: Speaking a little bit of English.
Only requirements for working for the government: Knowing someone who works there.
Only requirements for working as a policeman or in the army: Being a terrible person.
Only requirements for working in a restaurant: Using chili and MSG in every dish.

20) It’s very easy to find a job, and it’s just as easy to not get paid for it.




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